Korea football chief denies corruption

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SEOUL, South Korea (AP) -- The president of the Korea Football Association (KFA) has denied reports of corruption in the organization, despite an official probe into its finances and criticism of a payout to an employee accused of embezzlement.

Cho Chung-yeon said Friday that the KFA was not guilty of financial mispractice after the organization had been criticized for paying a former employee 150 million won ($134,000) last month.

The official, who worked in the accounting and finances department since 2006, had threatened to go public with claims that related to his firing in December for alleged attempts to embezzle money using the KFA's corporate credit card reward points.

"I never thought about trying to avoid responsibility for this series of events," Cho said. "There has never been any construction of slush funds or any accounting irregularity."

The Korean Olympic Committee sent a special inspection to audit the KFA on Monday. It reported on Friday, urging the football body to seek a criminal investigation into the ex-employee and to retrieve the money that was paid out. The investigation added that the KFA had not followed its own regulations.

The president gave no sign of stepping down from his post over the issue though the settlement saw KFA executive director Kim Jin-kook resign on January 27. Instead he promised to improve the KFA's accounting procedures and management system.

"We will work to prevent a recurrence...Korean soccer is in a tense situation at the moment and there can be no damaging the attempts of the national team to qualify for the World Cup as well as the Olympics," Cho said.